The List: A series even I could watch

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 4, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

For some reason, I’ve watched more of the NBA this season than I have in a long time.

Shockingly, I’ve been able to get through it without the nauseating, dizzying effects it normally brings.

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Because of that, I have to believe this year’s Finals will be the best in my lifetime, maybe one of the best ever.

Of course, I’ll tell you why when we go down “The List.”

5. Probably improbable – By show of hands, who expected the Mavericks and Heat to be the last two teams standing?

Most of the world thought the Spurs and Pistons would be beating up on each other come Thursday night.

But the Mavs learned how to play defense as the season went along, and the Heat have those two guys. What are their names?

4. Speed and grace – You would think in an era where players don’t even think about getting floor burns, more finesse teams would dominate the playoffs.

But Detroit, a squad that will knock you down then talk about your momma, has turned into a perennial powerhouse. Same for San Antonio, which has the advantage of being able to play both styles.

Dallas never scared anybody into submission. And it was only until Pat Riley took over as coach did anyone truly fear Miami.

3. The intangibles – There is no better sideshow in sports than Dallas owner Mark Cuban cheering madly (and sometimes excessively) for his team. I’ll never forget that game a couple of years ago when he came out on the court looking to get after someone when a fight broke out.

For the Heat, Riley’s past success in the playoffs will be something to watch. The man flat out knows how to win.

2. Men in the middle – It’s hard to overstate the importance of a good big man in basketball.

Shaquille is the absolute best. He’s not only the most dominant physical force in the game, he’s also an extremely vociferous fellow.

For the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki is the new breed of big men. Built in the mold of Kevin Garnett, he can post up like a 4 or 5 and pass and score like a 1, 2 or 3.

Never ever take your eyes off either of these two.

1. The prediction – Heat in six. Dallas will run its way into a couple of wins. But Dwyane Wade, Shaq and Co. will get it done.

George L. Jones is a staff writer for the Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at